Contributors to the Great Debate
Colin Talbot is Professor of Public Policy in the School of Sociology & Social Policy
at University of Nottingham. His main area of expertise is in public services and public
management reform. He has recently completed major international comparative studies on the
creation of arms-length agencies; of the use of performance reporting systems; and of budget
participation and scrutiny systems. He has advised Parliamentary Committees on performance
and public spending issues for the Treasury, Public Administration and Welsh Affairs Committees
and a wide range of international public sector organisations. He is currently directing a
organisation Consortium looking at the use of performance measurement in public services.
At present he is head of the
Nottingham Policy Centre
(NPC), a newly established public policy research and teaching centre situated within the
School of Social Policy and Sociology in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the
University of Nottingham and is setting up
a range of new public policy post graduate courses and research programmes.
Colin Talbot was on the panel at a joint The Great Debate - Newcastle
Philosophy Society event:
The Nature of Being Human in March 2005.
The Paradoxical Primate by
Human beings have an evolved but highly adaptable nature. This book sets out to establish a
new framework for understanding human nature, from an evolutionary perspective but drawing
on existing social sciences. It seeks to explain how human beings can appear to be so
malleable in their nature, yet have an inherited set of behavioural instincts.
When the founder of sociobiology, E.O. Wilson, made a plea for greater integration of the
physical and human sciences in his book Consilience, there was an underlying assumption that
the traffic would be mainly one way -- from physical to human science. This book reverses
this assumption and draws on a new branch of human sciences, paradoxical systems theory, to
reconceptualise some of the most innovative developments from physical sciences -- the
related fields of evolutionary psychology, ethology, and behavioural genetics. The new
approach is also applied to politics, economics and public policy.
Agencies: How Governments Do Things Through Semi-autonomous Organizations
by Christopher Pollitt, Janice Caulfield, Amanda Smullen, Colin Talbot
Many countries now use agencies rather than ministries to deliver central government
services. There have been many claims about the benefits of organizing and delivering
government in this way, but there has been little research into how they work in practice.
Agencies both reviews existing theories and models of 'agentification' and adds detailed
analysis of major new empirical evidence. Based partly on a major international research
project and partly on a reinterpretation of the existing literature, this book gets inside
the world of agencies and ministries. An in-depth analysis of agencies in four EU countries
serves as a basis for testing alternative theoretical models and developing a new approach
to the complexities of contemporary government.
Unbundled Government Colin Talbot (Editor)
Public sector bureaucracies have been subjected to harsh criticism. One solution
which has been widely adopted over the past two decades has been to 'unbundle
government' - that is to break down monolithic departments and Ministries into
smaller, semi-autonomous, 'agencies'. These are often governed by some type of
performance contract, are at 'arms length' or further from their 'parent' Ministry
or Department and are freed from many of the normal rules governing civil service
bodies. This is the first book to survey the 'why' and the 'how' of this epidemic
of 'agencification', with case studies from every continent. From Japan to America
and from Sweden to Tanzania, these 14 case studies (some covering more than one
country) critically examine how such agencies have been set up and managed. Unbundled
Government will be essential reading for advanced students and researchers of
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